Category Archives: Sweden

Sweden: A Beacon Of Light Against A World Gone Mad

The ‘Rona Squeeze & A Swedish Hip-Hopper

And so it was time again.

Tightened restrictions, mandatory limits on public life, curfews, orders to stay-at-home, travel bans with invasive hoops, and all the other anti-corona policies that ostensibly aren’t lookdowns: they look like lockdowns, they quack like lockdowns, but in these euphemism-prone times we call them by any other names than lockdowns.

Maddeningly, the goalpost keeps shifting, updating life and language faster and better than George Orwell himself could have done.

  • First, we had to take precautions to flatten the curve. Hospitals and fears, remember? Then we had to stop travelling, or visit the mall ‒ because who needs that, anyway?
  • Then we had to wear cloth over our faces and stay away from each other. For the elderly’s sake, naturally.
  • Then we had to give up public life for everyone’s sake.
  • The next step, bravely taken by authoritarian politicians and epidemiologists across the Western world, is to intentionally overdo the restrictions ‒ “for now” ‒ so that we have any hope of getting freedoms back for the holidays.

No matter how hard these enlightened autocrats have squeezed, this badly-behaved virus refuses to listen. How odd, they must think; we passed a law, made an announcement ‒ why isn’t it working?

Back to your rooms, the Austrians said. After an explosive number of positive tests in the last week, enough with the provisional liberties and niceties, you’re grounded for the rest of November. Gatherings and cultural events are closed; Christmas markets are out. The Icelanders, already in the spring proclaimed corona free and all summer celebrated in puff pieces by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker and Adam Roy Gordon in the Atlantic, still dreamily speak of celebrating Christmas.

When the latest rounds of tighter and tighter restrictions came into effect this week, the government talking heads, and the prime minister in particular, told their subjects to give up on Halloween and the next few weeks. Let’s sacrifice these few weeks, they said, so that we can loosen restrictions for Christmas. Fat chance.

The Brits and the French have been even more adamant on setting timelines, or “circuit-breakers,” on their invasive policies. We strip you of liberties, dignities, and the things in which most people find joy ‒ but for a good cause, and just for a little while, okay?

The naivety here was always impressive. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Most people could have plausibly believed what their politicians told them about timelines in the spring; this was a new situation, we didn’t know what the novel threat was, and old handbooks could be thrown out before anyone had time to object. The withdrawn freedoms would be rolled back in time, but as political economist Robert Higgs taught us long ago, never quite fully.

A little over half a year later, we’re going through the same ordeal again. With much better knowledge about the (overblown) risks, with much better tools in preventing spread and safeguarding the elderly. Still, it doesn’t seem to matter. The political overlords, not exactly known for their excellence in interpreting statistics, look at their exponential graphs ‒ and do the exact same thing they did in the spring.

It’s almost as if the virus doesn’t care about your crackdowns, your faster and harder tightening of the societal and commercial noose. If you squeeze people just a little bit more, maybe ‒ just maybe ‒ the virus will listen…? French ministers, like American policy-makers in the spring, started mandating what kinds of products may be on the supermarket shelves: soap is acceptable; makeup isn’t. The Germans, widely celebrated for their track-and-trace program and generous financial schemes, opted for a “mild” lockdown ‒ “just” for four weeks. Perhaps, suggested Holman Jenkins in the Wall Street Journal recently, “the bigger numbers might suggest we are grappling with a natural phenomenon over which we exercise little control.”

Take the bamboozled and highly infected discussion over mask-wearing. They’re effective, they’re not effective; they’re effective if you use them right; and even if they’re not, every little bit counts. In its beautiful infographic, the New York Times describes how they work: “A good mask will have a large surface area, a tight fit around the edges, and a shape that leaves space around your nostrils and mouth.”

Even if accurate, we don’t need to go much further than our closest supermarket to notice that that’s not the kind of masks worn by most people. Most people wear loosely fitted, thin pieces of cloth that probably capture some particles ‒ what do I know? ‒ but is unlikely to approach the efficacy that its proponents describe. We reuse them without washing them ‒ can anyone really be bothered? ‒ we don’t put them on properly, they leak left-right-and-center.

The fallback line? Well, not individually but they’re part of a bigger package. The New York Times quotes Linsey Marr at Virginia Tech saying that “something is better than nothing.”

Perhaps every little helps in a what-otherwise-would-have-been sense, but that’s not how most decision-makers justify the above withdrawal of our liberties. Rather, they say that the infection rates are “too high,” the curve too steep, the hospital capacity for treatment too close for comfort. Presuming their honesty ‒ the faking of which I don’t put past them ‒ there’s scant evidence that aggregate mask use correlates in any way with infection rates.

Sweden, where virtually nobody outside hospital settings uses masks, has had lower 7-days rolling deaths per capita than the U.S. for four months straight; lower than the mask-wielding and lockdown-prone U.K. for almost two months. Even the much-praised German experience now has more people dying from (and with) Covid-19 than Sweden does. Infection rates and spread too: the trends since the height of summer or beginning of fall look the same, regardless if you’re a massively mask-wielding country or not.

Yes, it is possible that without widespread mask use among Americans and Brits, infection rates would have even higher and death rates too. I keep wondering, what would the numbers have to look like for you to even consider that what we’re doing isn’t working? That perhaps locking down societies, practically, doesn’t do much to combat the disease, but quite a lot to ruin people’s lives and livelihoods?

We can choose cherry-picked countries for our various cases all we like: the “success stories” of Vietnam, New Zealand, or Australia haven’t done things much differently than Denmark, Austria, France, U.K. or the U.S.: squeeze your populace, and say the magic incantations. Perhaps the virus deity will grant your wishes.

I’m reminded of two-decades-old words by Jason Diakité (stage name ‘Timbuktu’), one of my favorite musicians and one of the most successful hip-hoppers in Sweden. In the early 2000s, he released a pretty obscure song called Ett Brev (“A Letter”) structured like a letter to the then-prime minister of Sweden. A political rapper ‒ naturally hard left like all good artists ‒ Diakité was objecting to the many frightening trends he saw in Europe: dismantled social safety nets, overburdened health care services, opposition and hatred towards immigrants. He explicitly included a list of countries where Nazis were allegedly “gaining the upper hand” in typical Antifa-like hyperbole: France, Italy, “BeNeLux,” and Sweden’s immediate neighbor Denmark. The list of places going radically south, as he saw it, was long.

In all of these places, “Forces for good have presumably surrendered.” Little did Diakité know that almost two decades after he penned those provocative lines, his words would ring true across most of the Western world.

The authoritarian threat of 2020 is very different, and instead of neo-Nazi movements of the early 2000s, the culprits are established, well-meaning politicians and technocrats. Much like then, Sweden is depicted as a beacon of light, standing against a world gone mad, the last outpost of sanity and the values underpinning Western Liberal Democracy.

Most everywhere else, different rules apply: no matter the facts, we must squeeze harder. The badly-behaved virus must stop progressing, must cease and desist. Anything else, apparently, “just doesn’t seem worth it.”

Sweden Vs COVID-19: Why “Herd Immunity” Matters and Why Lockdown Doesn’t Really Work


Professor Johan Giesecke, one of the world’s most senior epidemiologists, advisor to the Swedish Government (he hired Anders Tegnell who is currently directing Swedish strategy), the first Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and an advisor to the director general of the WHO, lays out with typically Swedish bluntness why he thinks:

  • UK policy on lockdown and other European countries are not evidence-based
  • The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only
  • This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”
  • The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better
  • The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact
  • The paper was very much too pessimistic
  • Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway
  • The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown
  • The results will eventually be similar for all countries
  • Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
  • The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%
  • At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available

UnHerd host Freddy Sayers speaks with Professor Johan Giesecke in what they describe as one of the most extraordinary interviews they have done… Watch:

Sweden is still holding out against a lockdown, even as its death toll surges past 1,300




Image: Sweden is still holding out against a lockdown, even as its death toll surges past 1,300

(Natural News) Sweden’s Public Health Agency reported a surge in new cases late Thursday after 613 people tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the country’s total caseload to 12,540. The agency also reported 130 deaths, the second-highest daily death toll after Wednesday’s 170, taking Sweden’s total from 1,203 to 1,333.

Despite the figures, officials continue to resist calls to place the country under lockdown. In an interview with Financial Times, Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin said that the country has taken “very harsh and exceptional measures” to deal with coronavirus, even as schools and restaurants remain open, saying that the government wants to make “the right decisions at the right time.”

In a separate interview, Foreign Affairs Minster Ann Linde also defended the country’s holdout.

“We don’t believe in a lockdown if it’s not going to be sustainable over time. We don’t believe we can lock people in their houses for several months and have a high degree of people following it,” she added.

“But it’s a myth that it’s business as usual. It’s not business as usual.”

Government urges people to be responsible as they practice social distancing

While the latest figures were lower than those from Wednesday, health authorities noted the latter also included backlogs from the Easter weekend and that the most recent numbers indicate a genuine upswing in new cases.

In particular, the number of coronavirus cases in Sweden continues to rise, as other countries – most of which have a cordon sanitaire in place – are now seeing their infection rates slow down. According to the country’s public health agency, nearly half of Sweden’s cases are in the Stockholm region, which reported 214 new cases.

Sweden’s approach to the pandemic is an outlier compared to other countries in Europe. The country’s highly controversial strategy revolves around the idea that dealing with the contagion will be “a marathon, not a sprint.”

Lovin added that, in place of restrictions, the government has set forth clear guidance on how to combat the coronavirus. She also stressed that these recommendations demanded a “common responsibility” from the public. Currently, public gatherings of 50 people are still allowed, and bars and restaurants remain open, as well as primary schools. Authorities believe that closing schools and kindergartens will be detrimental; the closures could force essential personnel such as doctors and nurses to stay home or draft at-risk grandparents to do childcare. (Related: WHO: Europe now the EPICENTER of the coronavirus pandemic.)

“It’s very important that we have sustainability in the decisions we take so that we don’t have a fatigue in the population. There’s huge support for the way we have been doing it so far. There is almost no controversy between the political parties,” said Lovin.

The approach also wagers on the high level of trust that the public has with government agencies. Local health officials say that the public has been acting responsibly to minimize the spread of infection. On Easter weekend, Lovin noted that travel in Sweden was 90 percent lower than in previous years after the government advised against traveling to see relatives.

Scientists call for radical measures as deaths mount

On Tuesday, a group of doctors, virologists and researchers published an op-ed criticizing the government’s handling of the pandemic. The group accused the Public Health Agency of failing to roll out a proper strategy, which has caused the number of deaths to rise way above that of other Nordic countries.

“One would like to imagine that Sweden, too, has had a forward-looking strategy, especially since our country has always had a different way of facing the spread of the infection than the rest of the world,” they wrote in local broadsheet Dagens Nyheter.

In response, Linde said that while the scientists were “entitled to their opinion,” there was no point in comparing Sweden’s strategy with that of its neighbors, given that each country has its own challenges when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus and is at different stages of the pandemic.

“We are all fighting the same fight but with different means.” has more on the global coronavirus pandemic.

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